Balfour’s Declaration – Myths vs. Facts (Introduction)
By Yossi Schwartz, Internationalist Socialist League (RCIT Section in Israel / Occupied Palestine), November 2017, www.thecommunists.net
On November 2 1917, one hundred years ago, Lord Balfour, the British foreign Minister sent a letter to Baron Rothschild, where he expressed sympathy for the Zionist aspirations and informed him that Britain is in support of a Jewish homeland for the Jews in Palestine. He asked him to convey this message to the leadership of the Zionist movement.
The Zionist Myth is that the British promised them an independent state. This is nothing but a fabrication of history.
Thus, this letter was not an official declaration of the British Empire, but a letter to a rich Jew, nor was it a promise for a Jewish state but for some form of autonomy. Behind this letter was the interest of imperialist Britain to divert Jewish refugees, suffering from pogroms in Russia, from settling in the UK for the sake of guarding the Suez Canal in the service of global colonialism, as part of the “white man’s burden”, instead.
Additionally, Balfour, who was a known anti-Semite, believed that rich Jews controlled the world economy and can influence the Russian masses to continue the war against Germany. The Russian workers and peasants who brought down the Tzar wanted to break out of the slaughterhouse established by the capitalists for the sake of resolving some conflicting interests of the imperialist states. At that time Britain did not do well in the war and had suffered major defeat in Gallipoli.
At the same time Britain had promised to Hussein, the Sheriff of Mecca, that all the Arab populated countries will be part of his kingdom including Palestine.
In 1939, the British government published the White Paper in which it announced that since 450,000 Jews have already settled in Palestine, Lord Balfour’s promise was to be considered fulfilled and that in 10 years, Britain will grant independence to Palestine, where the great majority of the population was Arab.
It stated: “It has been urged that the expression “a national home for the Jewish people” offered a prospect that Palestine might in due course become a Jewish State or Commonwealth. His Majesty’s Government do not wish to contest the view, which was expressed by the Royal Commission, that the Zionist leaders at the time of the issue of the Balfour Declaration recognised that an ultimate Jewish State was not precluded by the terms of the Declaration. But, with the Royal Commission, His Majesty’s Government believe that the framers of the Mandate in which the Balfour Declaration was embodied could not have intended that Palestine should be converted into a Jewish State against the will of the Arab population of the country. That Palestine was not to be converted into a Jewish State might be held to be implied in the passage from the Command Paper of 1922 which reads as follows:
“Unauthorized statements have been made to the effect that the purpose in view is to create a wholly Jewish Palestine. Phrases have been used such as that `Palestine is to become as Jewish as England is English.’ His Majesty’s Government regard any such expectation as impracticable and have no such aim in view. Nor have they at any time contemplated …. the disappearance or the subordination of the Arabic population, language or culture in Palestine. They would draw attention to the fact that the terms of the (Balfour) Declaration referred to do not contemplate that Palestine as a whole should be converted into a Jewish National Home, but that such a Home should be founded IN PALESTINE.”
Needless to say, we as working class revolutionaries, do not regard British imperialism as a political entity that can make promises to be believed, rather than an enemy of the masses. However, it is important to know the facts. The following article deals with this issue in detail.
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